BEIJING, Jan 12 — New bank lending in China fell more than expected in December from the previous month, but lending for the full year of 2021 set a record, as the central bank maintained policy support to cushion the slowing economy.
Chinese banks extended 1.13 trillion yuan (RM743 billion) in new yuan loans in December, down from 1.27 trillion yuan in November and falling short of analysts’ expectations, according to data released by the People’s Bank of China today.
Analysts polled by Reuters had predicted new yuan loans would fall to 1.25 trillion yuan in December. The tally was lower than 1.27 trillion yuan a year earlier.
However, new bank lending hit a record 19.95 trillion yuan for the year, up 1.6 per cent from 19.63 trillion yuan in 2020 — the previous record — and equivalent to more than the gross domestic product of the United Kingdom.
China’s economy got off to a strong start in 2021 as activity continued to rebound from a pandemic-induced slump the previous year, but it has lost steam in recent months due to a property market downturn, curbs on industrial pollution and strict Covid-19 curbs which have hit consumer confidence and spending.
To shore up flagging growth, the central bank cut the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) for banks on December 15, its second such move in 2021, releasing 1.2 trillion yuan in long-term liquidity to bolster business activity.
The central bank also cut the rates on its relending facility by 25 basis points (bps) to support the rural sector and small firms.
Most analysts expect further cuts in the RRR this year, with some also pencilling in cuts in policy rates if activity continues to cool. More aggressive rate cuts are not expected in China, however, especially as the US Federal Reserve looks ready to start raising rates soon, which could lead to capital outflows from emerging markets.
The property downturn is expected to continue into the first half of this year, with the recent local spread of the highly-contagious Omicron variant posing a fresh challenge.
China will continue to implement proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy in 2022. It will keep economic operations within a reasonable range in 2022, said the Politburo, the country’s top-decision making body.
“Debt to GDP was aggressively reduced by 10 per cent points in 2021, but with growth decelerating to below policymakers’ comfort zone, policy makers have clearly pivoted to an outright easing mode,” analysts at Morgan Stanley said in a note earlier this week.
Broad M2 money supply grew 9.0 per cent from a year earlier, central bank data showed, above estimates of 8.7 per cent forecast in the Reuters poll. M2 grew 8.5 per cent in November from a year ago.
Outstanding yuan loans grew 11.6 per cent in December from a year earlier compared with 11.7 per cent growth in November. Analysts had expected 11.7 per cent growth.
Growth of outstanding total social financing (TSF), a broad measure of credit and liquidity in the economy, quickened to 10.3 per cent in December from a year earlier and from 10.1 per cent in November.
TSF includes off-balance sheet forms of financing that exist outside the conventional bank lending system, such as initial public offerings, loans from trust companies and bond sales.
In December, TSF fell to 2.37 trillion yuan from 2.61 trillion yuan in November. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected December TSF of 2.45 trillion yuan. — Reuters